Thursday, June 21, 2018

Again, those in the lower economic level ask less for redistribution

Fatke, Matthias, Inequality and Political Behavior: Objective Levels Versus Subjective Perceptions (March 8, 2018).

Abstract: Inequality poses one of the biggest challenges of our time. Evidently, it is not self-correcting in the sense that citizens demand more redistributive measures in light of rising inequality. Recent studies suggest this might be due to the fact that citizens’ perceptions of inequality diverge from objective levels. Moreover, it is not the latter, but the former, which are related to preferences conducive to redistribution. Yet, the nascent literature on inequality perceptions exhibits at least two lacunae. First, studies so far have not accounted for the role of subjective position in society. And second, studies on political participation and attitudes still rely by and large on objective levels of inequality. Against this backdrop, our paper advances two arguments: the relationship between inequality perceptions and preferences towards redistribution is conditional on the subjective position of respondents; and political participation and attitudes are rather related to subjective perceptions of inequality instead of objective levels. To that end, we analyze comprehensive survey data on inequality perceptions from the social inequality module of the International Social Survey Programme (1992, 1999, and 2009). Since no comparative data with indicators for both inequality perceptions and political behavior is available, we join additionally a wave of the 2004 ISSP and apply multiple imputation. This allows, for the first time, testing subjective perceptions of inequality as predictor of political behavior. Gaining a better understanding of inequality perceptions contributes to comprehending the absence self-correcting inequality.

Keywords: Inequality, Political Behavior, Redistribution, Participation, Protest, Perceptions
JEL Classification: D63, D01, D72, D91

Check also: "We document a statistically significant and robust positive relation between risk aversion and the demand for redistribution that is also economically important. We show that previously used proxies for risk aversion (such as being an entrepreneur or having a history of unemployment) do not capture the effect of our measure of risk aversion but have distinctly different effects on the demand for redistribution." From Individual risk preferences and the demand for redistribution. Manja Gärtner, Johanna Mollerstrom and David Seim. Journal of Public Economics, v 153, September 2017, Pages 49-55.

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